Keen skiers are often on the lookout for new ski experiences and good skiing conditions. Recently I was fortunate enough to discover the lesser known French resort of Serre Chevalier…

 

A resort with much to offer…

Although not particularly fashionable, Serre Chevalier has much to offer in terms of good skiing, gourmet dining and lively bars, and is conveniently placed in the centre of the Southern Alps about a half hour’s drive from the historic town of Briançon, which claims to enjoy over 300 hours of sunshine a year.  

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Playing golf in and around Logrono in the famous Rioja region of Spain turned out to be one of those unforgettable experiences, Rioja happens to be one of my favourite wines! First, we flew British Airways to Bilbao and on arrival were met by the lovely Urdu Zabala Asua from Planearte travel agency and our host during the entire trip. From here, Urko drove us north for a two hours journey to Logrono and dropped us off at the Hotel Via Grande in the town’s centre, (:granvia@hotelogrono.com) only once we had checked-in, we were instructed to meet up with the rest of the group in the nearby Kabanova restaurant – no peace for the wicked!

After a relaxing game-of-golf-at-the-Rioja-Alta-Golf-Club-near-Logrono, we were joined by the local and regional tourist offices for dinner that evening and Immediately on arrival we were all greeted with welcoming glasses of Rioja wine. Several members of the group I had met before on previous trips and after a few minutes of catch-up chat we were promptly seated at a large square table. Dinner consisted of seven typically Spanish ‘tasting’ dishes mostly cooked from local produce and washed down with even more Rioja!. By the time we finished it was already past mid-night and I still had to unpack and prepare for tomorrow’s golf and be ready for our 8.15 pick-up time! Our first round of golf was played at the Rioja Alta Golf club and only a 45 minute drive from the hotel arriving in plenty of time for our 9.30 tee times.

Conditions on this mostly flat course were good although some holes were quite challenging particularly the 18th but altogether an enjoyable course to play. Stapleford was played throughout the trip with points accumulating at the end of each round. As I had barely slept six hours the night before and hardly played all winter I really didn’t expect to play well but surprised even myself by finishing with a respectable score of 27, four points behind the top score of 31!!  

After golf, we all sat down for a late but delicious lunch in the club’s comfortable restaurant, and afterwards drove for about an hour to the ‘Bodaga Finca de Los Arandinos’ vineyard where a guide met us and showed us around explaining how picked grapes eventually end up in huge temperature controlled vats. Back at the hotel and after a quick change of clothes, dashed off to the old part of town for a tapas evening accompanied by Jose Ramon Jimenez Berger, a wine and tapas expert. In all we visited six different tapas bars all in medieval passages of the old town. Jose Ramon turned out to be an excellent and very entertaining guide who explained in great detail all the different wines and tapas we consumed during the course of the evening 

Our next round of golf was played at the Logrono Golf Club, a hilly and quite challenging course but equally enjoyable. Fortunately by mid-day skies cleared and the sun came out and it  was so nice feeling the warm sunshine while sitting outside on the terrace enjoying a refreshing glass of beer. A light lunch followed in the El 19 (19th hole bar) and this was followed by a short drive to the Marques de Vargas Winery, one of largest vineyards in the region which also has a fascinating ‘Rioja Wine Museum’ and where we spent the best part of an hour meandering around before we were ushered into a special wine tasting room.

Dinner that evening was in the La Quisquillosa restaurant in the old part of town, the same evening a religious Easter parade was taking place that represented the Crucifixion of Christ and which passed directly by the restaurant. Eerily, all those taking part in this parade were dressed in ominous black robes with pointed black hats and marched to the menacing sound of beating drums. I found this whole display quite sinister even though it takes place each year at Easter time. Once inside the restaurant we were again regally entertained with yet another five course meal which as you can guess, was accompanied by more Rioja.

Unfortunately, the Sojuela Golf Club where we played our next round had not fully recovered from recent late season snowfalls and this mostly hilly course was still quite muddy and in places water-logged. After struggling to play the first nine holes, I gave up and later enjoyed another delicious lunch in the clubhouse. Dinner that evening was booked at the unusual La Cocina de Ramon restaurant, an interesting combination of cooking demonstrations of selected dishes. The idea is that owner, Ramon cooks each dish in front of the group explaining ingredients used and then served. All six tasting dishes were delicious and again accompanied by Rioja wine.

On the way to back to Bilbao airport we briefly stopped by the Izki Golf club, one of the regions highest courses but as it had rained overnight I decided to give this one a miss even though we’d only arranged to play only nine holes. I enjoyed instead admiring the scenic views of surrounding mountains from the clubhouse terrace. 

Golf and Rioja – definitely an idyllic combination! .

Few can claim to have won a ski holiday purely on a random selection of a business card that had been placed in a glass bowl along with several others.This is what happened to me at the launch of the ‘2018 Where to Ski Guide’ held annually in Westminster’s Liberal Club. As someone who rarely wins anything, hearing my name called out as the winner of a ski holiday to Alta Badia in Italy came as a complete surprise. The holiday was for four people and included everything bar flights, car and ski hire. After much deliberation, I finally emailed prize details to a few selected friends ‘who ski’, and the first to reply was Fanny, who I first met several years ago when we ran separate chalets in Zermatt, and that’s how the ball started rolling. As soon as mutually suitable dates were agreed with Alta Badia’s tourist office, Fanny’s husband, Robert researched into flights and car hire even though it was still only early November! Thus arrangements were finalised to fly to Innsbruck on 4th March which although initially sounded a long way off, in what seemed like no time we were soon flying to Innsbruck on an early morning (7.30 am – ugh!!) EasyJet flight from Gatwick. Usually I avoid early morning flights, I am not an early morning person and hate having to wake up half way through the night. In my case it was four in the morning although Fanny and Robert managed an extra hour as they spent the night in a nearby Gatwick hotel. Instead, Instead I arranged for Meet and Greet to valet my car outside North terminal which did make travelling early morning a little easier. At least our early flight meant we arrived in the La Villa (part of the Alta Badia resort) with plenty of time to check into the Hotel Antines and arrange suitable ski hire.

I first skied this area some three years ago when staying in Corvara and experienced some amazing skiing. Each day I was accompanied by Nicole or someone from the Alta Badia tourist office. This amazing ski area boasts over 130 kilometers of varied and interesting runs, 53 lifts with access to 12 valleys in the Dolomite ski region. We even skied the fabled Sella Ronda one day which included taking a 3 kilometre horse ride hanging on to one of the two ropes attached to a small cart pulled by two horses. This simple form of transport took us to the next connecting ski lift. If needs be there are 3 euro shared taxis rides but being dragged along on skies by horses was for more exciting experience.

On our first day’s skiing, we had been invited a gourmet lunch at the Bioch restaurant as part of the prize so Fanny and I (Robert had decided not to ski) decided to take the gondola up to Piz La Ila and connecting lifts to Briancia where after skiing several nearby runs we eventually ended up at the Bioch restaurant around 1 pm for a delicious gourmet lunch. By the time we left it was already nearly three in the afternoon which meant skiing a few more runs before off to La Villa, skiing all the way. Conditions were perfect although the sun was mostly hidden behind clouds.

Each afternoon light snacks were served gratis in our hotel and this is where we would end up for an hour or two after skiing before getting ready to meet at the bar for pre-dinner drinks. Each evening dinner was a delicious gourmet affair which would be washed down with a bottle or two of local wine.

For our last day’s skiing we decided to hire a guide. Angelica who is studying to be an interior designer, met us promptly at 9.30 in the hotel’s lobby and took us on a memorable selection of excellent uncrowded ski runs for a final perfect day’s skiing.  

All in all this was a short but incredibly enjoyable stay. . 

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For the past year I have been seriously considering hanging up my skies partly because of the number of horrendous ski accidents I kept hearing about and partly because skiing is regarded as a young ‘persons’ sport. What changed my mind was an unexpected invitation to ski in Serre Cavelier in the Southern Alps, a place I had not previously skied and was interested to find out more. Admittedly many of my non-skiing friends thought I was quite mad to go especially as last year’s accident statistics had hit an all time high but looking back now I have absolutely no regrets. This trip presented me with the perfect opportunity to regain lost confidence and realise that skiing is still for all ages and there was no rhyme or reason to give up. Slopes are safer providing skiers ski within their limits, and remarkably ski conditions this time couldn’t have been better. 

Serre Cavalier is not a particularly fashionable resort but the skiing is good and suited my karma perfectly. This region consists of a string of small villages mostly with inter connecting north facing ski runs and a  2 euro bus service that connects to other villages. About twenty kilometres away is the ancient town of Briancon, a former fortress and some 1200 meters above sea level. We stayed in the village of La Salle-les-Alpes part of the Villeneuve commune,a charming, traditional village with narrow cobbled streets lined with small wooden fronted shops, cosy bars and traditional restaurants.

This time we flew British Airways from Gatwick to Grenoble and were met by Zenith ski holidays rep, James, who also drove us the two-hour journey and deposited us directly outside our chalet aptly called Le Lodge. Once inside Max, our excellent chalet ‘girl’ greeted us, showed us our rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and offered us tea and a freshly baked Carrot cake. Grabbing ski socks we then dashed off to Brechu Sports shop to be kitted out with skis, boots and helmets – now compulsory these days. To my relief my hired boots turned out to be a perfect fit, badly fitting boots often ruin a ski holiday and why I am so carefully about choosing the right boots. That evening we walked on icy snow to the ‘Nordic Baths’, if anything an unforgettable experience. On arrival we were asked to changed into our swimming costumes we had been instructed to bring with us and given plastic shoes and a fluffy white towelling robe to wear before being taken along a snow-covered path for about fifty yards in minus 10 degrees to one of several large outdoor hot water tubs where we de-robed and gingerly stepped into to the hot bubbling water avoiding slipping on its iced sides. Five minutes later and we were casually sipping champagne and later ‘dinner’ which consisted of several varieties of hot kababs – a very novice way of dining out!. After about half an hour I decided it was time to go back inside although you can stay as long as you like, and changed back into my warm clothes still feeling ‘boiling hot’ and finished ‘dinner’ seated outside besides a large open fire later to be joined by the rest of the group. However, our evening antics continued, returning to our chalet around 11 and looking forward to my warm bed, to our dismay we found the chalet’s front door was locked and nobody had a key which left poor Katie, owner of Zenith holidays and our host desperately searching for a spare key, Rather than wait outside in the cold we all dived into a nearby cosy bar full of trendy skiers simply and joined in the fun over a couple of Cognacs – and that was just the first day!  

Katie also kindly acted as our ski guide and the next day took us up the Frejus gondola to Le Clot ski area where we spent the best part of three hours, almost non-stop skiing on the many well-groomed pistes, an incredible ski experience stopping. Here the views of the rest of Alps have to be seen to be believed. We stopped for a much-needed lunch break at the delightful Cafe du Soleil where besides our delicious lunch, we were treated to large woolly foot warmers during lunch while ski boots were placed on heated poles, a nice touch! 

There is a lot to be said about safety on slopes and if anything Serre Cavelier meets all requirements. Signage everywhere is excellent, runs clearly marked and there are plenty of warning signs when two runs merge. One thing I did notice is the respect faster skiers gave to slower skiers. Hopefully skiers, like car driver are becoming aware that taking unnecessary risks often ends in tears, and respecting other skiers on slopes is by far the best way to enjoy skiing. .

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It’s difficult to imagine  we’re already into the second week of January and Christmas is all but forgotten.The days leading up the Christmas had me running ragged with so much to do and see there were parties to to and shopping to do but I do remember thinking how glad I’d be ‘when all was over’. Finding elusive gifts in packed over-heated shops and endless wrapping of present left me utterly exhausted. Then there were the invites to parties, lunches and charity carol concerts but I shouldn’t complain, Christmas only comes but once a year. 

This year’s celebrations kicked off with a couple of fun lunches at my golf club. The first was White Lodge’s Ladies Christmas lunch where most end up dressing up in colourful Christmas outfits. After playing 18 holes in almost sub-zero temperatures, we were greeted with hot bowls of soup on our return to the clubhouse helped defrost my near frozen fingers and toes. During lunch various awards were presented and to my amazement I was awarded  ‘the most improved player of 2017’  and presented with silver cup with my name already engraved on has a place of pride in my glass cabinet. I can’t remember the last time I won an award but this was quite special. 

The Turkey Trot was the second golf lunch but this time it was a mixed fours. This time I played with Elaine and a couple of guys I’d previously not met but who were great company. As our group was the second to last to tee off, we arrived late at the clubhouse when most were already hoeing into the their Roast Turkey lunch.  Playing a muddy course in cold weather is not a favourite pastime but I somehow survived so you can imagine my surprise when it was announced I had the highest Stapleford score for the ladies and was presented with a small beautifully wrapped Christmas present as my prize! . 

My favourite Christmas party of 2017 was without a doubt Erica’s, my golfing buddy! Arriving with Christmas present in one hand, I was greeted by Erica’s two delightful grand-daughters 6 and 8 (the youngest is the splitting image of Erica) and told me in no uncertain terms where to hang my coat and where to leave my present – so sweet!! This was a joint party with her two daughters Ariane and Henrietta, a much sought after DJ similar to Fatboy Slim, and a delightful mix of their’s and Erica friends. The champagne flowed all evening and there were plenty of familiar friends to chat to!

Finally down to Bath for Christmas and how nice it was to catch up with family and all the great nieces, it’s amazing how quickly they grow. Renzo the son of my youngest niece, Rosy’s is fifteen and nearly as tall as me, whereas Felicity or Flic as she is known who’lll be 21 in February and the eldest daughter of my niece.Penny, already towers over me This time I drove to Bath early Christmas morning when traffic was light and weather bright and sunny. I arrived in time for Rosy’s annual Christmas morning drinks party at her Bathwick Boatman restaurant and attended mostly by locals. Early afternoon we drove over to Penny’s house in Richmond Heights for Christmas lunch in time to watch the Queen’s speech.  Altogether 16 of us sat down for Christmas lunch, sadly a few missing faces who have parted ways – my sister’s husband Russel and our mother, and Penny’s father-law who sadly passed away just before Christmas.

Penny produced a delicious Christmas lunch and an enormous turkey with all the trimmings and afterwards we sat in the lounge while presents were distributed by the younger family members left under the Christmas tree. Often wrong presents ended up with the wrong person but done in fun. Following the distribution of presents, it was entertainment time with each child demonstrating their musical skills from playing La La Land on the piano to ten-year old Sophie, Lucy and David’s youngest daughter, who played several renditions on her clarinet. Four days later and I was off to Sandbanks catching up friends Fanny and Robert, a skiing chum Nellie for some more fun times!!

End

Once again as the social secretary of the Lawn Tennis Writers Awards lunch, it is up to to organise our annual  awards lunch which took place 28th November last year – apologies for the late blog but unfortunately the days leading up to Christmas were far more time consuming.than anticipated, and ended up dealing with various unexpected issuit es but more importantly I am delighted to report the lunch went off smoothly even though it was a bit of daunting experience as Roehampton Tennis Club were the lunch was held, was a new and untried venue.   

With no committee meetings leading up to the event bar one held during the 02 ATP World finals two weeks beforehand, it was left up to me to organise trophies, raffle and auction prizes, finalise menu and wine choices (thankfully Wimbledon Beer agreed to sponsor the beer (www.wimbledonbeer.com) and various other issues that arise when organising a lunch of 160 guests. For the first time in a decade the committee had decided to do away with programmes and replace them with laminated sheets with the menu printed on one side and raffle and auction prizes the other. Admittedly this year’s lunch was a different kettle of fish compared to holding it at the AELTC but thankfully all worked out on the day. Normally the day I spend a couple of hours in the dining room sorting out a table plan which is then typed out in readiness for the lunch the next day. Not so this year, Roehampton had other ideas and asked me to do this on-line from a drawing emailed to me which inevitably bore little resemblance to where the tables were placed but somehow it worked and only ended up changing a couple table number and why the table numbers weren’t in sequence  However, I was more than a little surprised to find everything in place when I arrived early at the club.  Fortunately it was a beautiful Autumn day and sun streamed through the large glass windows on one side of the oblong shaped dining room that over looked the clubs 9 hole golf course lighting up the entire room which contrasted nicely with the blue upholstered chairs and carpets. 

In all around 160 guests from the world of tennis turned up and tables representing the All England club, Wimbledon Foundation, LTA, ATP, WTA, ITF, Queen’s Club, Sky and BBC were full to capacity plus many from the media and others associated with the world of tennis. Clearly a good sign that we had reached maximum number of guest and seemingly reflects on the event’s popularity. By tradition LTWA’s former treasurer, Barry Newcombe chooses the menu and this time was another well-balanced choice enjoyed by all. The service was faultless and helped enormously by James who bent backwards to make sure everything ran smoothly throughout the afternoon,  a great relief for me.    

During the lunch chairman Barry Flatman delivered speeches and presented the LTWA award to Jo Konta who sat on the top with her manager, Vicki Brook who, ironically is the daughter of AELTC’s chairman Philip Brook also on the same table. Jo gave a short but sweet speech while Alan Jones, former coach of Jo Durie was our award winner for the Services To Tennis Award who delivered a longer but in parts amusing speech. 

Finally, it was up to Sky TV’s Marcus Buckland to conducts the Raffle and auction which he does with great aplomb each year, and has everyone in fits of laughter.  He is a dab hand at creating amusing quips at and raising bids for auction prizes with TV presenter Annabel Croft helping out. In all nearly £4,000 was raised for Give it Your Max charity, whose president is former top tennis player John Beddington.

By 5 pm the room had cleared,and I was finally able to relax with a few friend’s at the clubs bar – phew!

Gallery

End

A full hand of the world’s top eight tennis players is what was needed to cap a successful year-end for the ATP’s Tour Finals at the 02 last November. Had all top eight players competed it would have made a perfect end to the year. However, that was not to be with the withdrawal of several top players including Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka although this was compensated by a possible final between the world’s number one and two, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer who between them hold all four Grand Slams titles. Rafa was drawn to play in the Pete Slue Sampras group along with Grigor Dimitrov, David Goffin and DominicThiem, and Roger in Group Boris Becker alongside two young up and coming players, Jack Sock and Alexandra Zverev, with Marin Cilic making up the quartet. Exciting tennis was anticipated even though the tournament had been blighted by the withdrawal of several top ten players for a variety of reasons. Although this left the tournament bereft of several top names at least the prospect of a ‘dream’ final was something to look forward to. However, that was not to be. After playing his first round match against Belgium’s David Goffin on the Monday, which he lost in three tight sets Nadal was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to on going knee problems. His early withdrawal was definitely a blow to the tournament and new sponsors Nitto even though he was promptly replaced by another up and coming player, Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta. 

It was a big disappointment to see the possibility of a dream final disappear, but hopes rested on at least seeing Roger reach his 7th ATP tour finals. All went well for his first three matches. and Roger played sublime tennis winning all three round robin matches to reach the semi finals where he faced a revitalised David Goffin in a match most expected Roger to win. Sadly that was not to be and he lost in straight sets and his chance to win a 7th ATP tour final dashed. A distinctly upset Federer said after his match,  ‘it was an off day’. In the other final between Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock was a much more lively affair with Grigor winning in three sets to reach his first ATP tour finals. However the disappointment of not seeing Federer in the final was thankfully compensated by an exciting finals between Dimitrov and Sock with Dimitrov beating his younger opponent in three sets. I haven’t mentioned doubles although I watched several matches but once Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares lost in their semi finals, more attention was paid to the rest of the singles matches. 

The media centre was again in the boondocks but at least the facilities were good and included a Media restaurant which served different menus each day, and a much appreciated free bar albeit limited to mostly wine and beer. This is where we could disappear and catch up with friends from the world of tennis. My only complaint was the time it takes to travel from South West London to the 02 each day, usually around an hour and half each way. One particularly sunny day I took the Thames ferryboat from the Embankment to the 02 which although adds an extra 30 minutes to the trip but is worthwhile and quite fascinating to see how much this part of London has developed since the 2012 Olympic games.

Thursday is always the day when the Lawn Tennis Writers committee meets and that means getting to the 02  by 10.45, when finally plans for the LTWA Awards lunch were thrashed out – but more about that in my next blog………!  

For further information on the Nitto ATP Finals go to www.ATPworldtour.com

 

 

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It was good to see so many familiar names and faces from the world of skiing at former Olympic gold medalist Franz Klammer’s now famous Wooden Spoon golf event which this year was staged at the Royal mid-Surrey Golf Club on a particularly warm sunny autumn day after a lapse of four years. Everybody who has played this event in past events remembers fondly the welcoming hospitality and bonhomie extended to us by Austria and various resort sponsors yet four years ago we all said a fond farewell to Franz and his Wooden Spoon golf day for the last time when the final event was staged in Austria in the canton of Carinthia, Franz’s home territory and where he learnt to ski as a youngster, For four memorable days a group of around thirty keen golfers and ski journalists (who also play golf) were regally entertained by the Austrian and Carinthian Tourist Offices and over four days and where we played three superb courses including Bad Kleinenkirkheim’s local golf course and Slovenia’s Royal Lake Bled.  The final evening was celebrated in style with a Gala dinner in the Grand Hotel in Bled and several fond farewell speeches were made plus millions of thanks to Franz and sponsors. I remember vividly giving Franz a farewell kiss almost in tears thanking him profusely for the wonderful golf memories and generous hospitality. Not for one minute did I think the event would be re-instated four years later but how wrong I was!.  

Seemingly through popular demand it was decided to stage the event this year at the Royal mid-Surrey golf club which turned out to be the perfect venue for the occasion. Many familiar faces from the world of skiing gathered that day including sixty keen golfers besides a smattering of ski journalists but most were from the travel trade and here to compete in a Texas Scramble that kicked off at mid-day after a delicious brunch in the spacious club house. I was given hole number 5 as my start hole which was somewhere in the boondocks but fortunately I had arranged to have a buggy and with some blind navigating managed to locate the hole before the horn was blasted as the sign to commence play – in Stapleford format.

Although my golf veered from brilliant to abysmal, my companions were fun to play with. Several holes were hosted by individual Austrian Ski resorts where kiosks had been erected and where we offered a variety of typical Austrian delicacies to eat, schnapps and Austrian wine to drink which I carefully avoided until the last couple of holes when I simply couldn’t resist a large gulp of schnapps to keep me going for the next couple of holes. 

As soon as we returned to the club house and handed in our cards, it was a quick shower and change into evening outfits for the Gala dinner before joining the others in the club’s bar for jovial hour catching up with everyone’s exploits and gossip.

Some non playing guests were given golf lessons by a couple of the club’s resident pros and that also included Eddie the Eagle who later admitted this was his ever golf lesson. Besides former Olympians Eddie Edwards, golf medalist Franz Klammer, there were also several  past and present Olympic skiers on the guest list including Grahame Bell, Konrad Bartelski, Amy Williams, Chemmie Alcott to name but a few.

Special Tyrolian deckchair presented to me by the Austrian Tourist board after the Gala dinner as a fun gift.

It was by far a most entertaining evening where many of great and good from the world of skiing rubbed shoulders. The food was delicious and drinks flowed all evening…… and oh yes, delighted to say I wasn’t the recipient of the now famous Franz Klammer’s Wooden Spoon trophy, (awarded to the player with the least number of points), but can’t remember who did win suffice to say it is now regarded as a salubrious honour! 

The good news is that the Franz Klammer Wooden Spoon event will definitely be back next year – can’t wait!!

End

It’s this time of the year, the start of the pre-skiing season when resorts and travel agents launch new ideas and products and invite a bunch of ski journalists to a variety of jammy receptions in central London as a means of informing us of their latest innovations. Admittedly, it is that time of the year when most journalists are on the look out for new ideas to write about whether it’s anything remotely to do with newly opened or refurbished hotels, restaurants or new inter-connecting ski lifts and runs, but it is always a perfect sounding boards to arrange future press trips and catch up with other ski journalists who are rarely seen outside the ‘Silly Ski Season’ except perhaps on the odd ski trip.

The first up was Switzerland’s posh reception at the Lansborough Hotel near Hyde Park Corner, one of London’s most expensive and luxury hotels. On arrival we were all given small white cards with sayings on them, mine for example, simply read, ‘Swiss Air’, while others had more exotic statements! Nobody quite knew what this was all about but we were firmly instructed not to lose our cards. Once ushered into a long reception room, waiters greeted us with trays laden with large glasses of red and white Swiss wine and during the course of the next hour we were lavishly entertained with delicious tasting canapes while empty glasses constantly replenished. Half way through the evening a small video presentation was shown describing many of Switzerland’s famous resorts, mountains and destinations. This was followed by a fun but fitting travel game. If whatever was written on your white card fitted the missing words that came up on the screen relating to various advertisements and statements about Switzerland, you were rewarded with a small prize. Fortunately mine was the simplest; as soon as a large aeroplane appeared on the screen all I had to do was wave my card and yell. ‘Swiss Air’. My gift was a bright red cricket ball with the words Ice Cricket St Moritz emblazoned in silver on it  However, some bright spark with a sense of humour had us all in fits of laughter when she kept yelling, Theresa May’ to whatever question that came up, for example, when asked to name a famous Swiss mountain, up came the answer Teresa May!. 

The next reception was at the Goring Hotel where once the entire Middleton family were ensconced during their daughter’s Kate’s marriage to Prince William. Now I understand why! This is a delightfully run family hotel with a deep sense of tradition, staff are all extremely polite and helpful. This time it was St Moritz’s Klum hotel’s turn to launch new ideas and this reception turned out to be another delightful evening where champagne flowed and canepes were plentiful. This time we were given a fascinating presentation about St Moritz and neighbouring villages and once again available press ski trips were discussed. 

Following St Moritz the next week was the Daily Telegraph’s Ski Show in Battersea, which was as much fun for punters and it was for journalists. here was certainly plenty to see and do to keep everyone happy and fully occupied. Besides the slope style skiing demonstrations there were several receptions to go and the first one kicked off with the Powdair and Snow-Camp which aoffered delicious salamis, Palma hams and a selection of local cheeses plus unlimited red and white wine. Next port of call was France’s Morzine Avoriaz resorts, and this was followed by Utah’s Park city, which gave out a goodie bags full of useful ski items. By this time I needed a bit of rest and went off to watch Graham Bell conducting a Q and A with some of our Olympic skiers taking part in next year’s Olympics in PyeongChang who talked about their training, hard work and rewards. Finally, I ended up at the Austrian Tourist Board stand for a ‘glass or two of schnapps’ but as I don’t drink schnapps I ended with a glass of white wine instead. Somehow I managed to win a prize for guessing the right Schnapps flavours and won a towel – my third this year!

If all accounts this year’s Daily Telegraph Ski Show was one of the best, and very entertaining and good fun – can’t wait for next year’s!.

 

End

 

A chance email to PR John Collard Managing Director of Sports Impact regarding his client, Royal mid Surrey Golf Club (near Twickenham Rugby ground) as a possible venue for the Austrian Tourist Board who were looking for a suitable golf club to re-instate the renowned Franz Klammer Wooden Spoon golf tournament, an event that was last held in the UK four years ago. led to an unexpected invitation to take part in a special media golf day at the club. My instructions were to arrive by id-day and as luck would have it, the warm, sunny weather was perfect for a day of golf. Proceedings kicked off with a delicious lunch in the Clubhouse restaurant and hosted by Bernhard Gallacher, who is attached to Royal mid Surrey. It was good to see Bernard looking fir and well. Most remember when he suffered a near fatal heart attack which seemingly hasn’t diminished his interests in golf although he enjoys reminding you of the quick thinking people with him at the time who immediately administered CPR and called for an ambulance.The rest is now history, and in his element welcoming the media to Royal mid Surrey Golf Club. 

Following his welcome speech, we all sat down to a delicious lunch. I was seated between Tom, a golf journalist from Golf Digest and Luke Edgecum, the club’s secretary who during the course of our conversation, kindly offered me a Four Ball for the Lawn Tennis Writers’s Annual Awards lunch charity raffle which I organise each year –  I’m always on the prowl for raffle prizes. This year’s lunch is at Roehampton Tennis Club instead of the All England Club where it’s usually held but due to continuing construction work on Court One’s retractable roof and the refurbishment of Centre Court’s debenture lounge there’s literally no room at the inn this year.

After lunch we were asked to assemble at first hole of JH Taylor course in readiness for our tee times in groups of four, my group consisted of Tom who I sat next, another journalist from Golf News and the club’s Golf Manager, Paul Crowe.  Throughout Paul was very helpful in explaining the various hidden and tricky challenges on the course as well telling me all about the club’s club’s history. The course is mostly flat but interesting to play, although the constant noise of planes from nearby Heathrow airport can prove a bit distracting at times. Seemingly members are immune to the noise? Over the past few years several holes have been redesigned to make the course more challenging including a couple of long par 5’s. My claim to fame was a perfect pitch and putt on hole 11 in front of Bernard Gallagher who waiting to be interviewed by Sky TV. My 7 iron shot landed a couple of feet from the green, about ten feet from the flag. Somehow I managed a execute a perfect pitch shot and the ball obediently rolled to within in a foot of the hole, and from there was able to putt in one! What luck! Bernard even congratulated me on my perfect pitch and putt.

All in all it was a very entertaining and enjoyable day, even my golf didn’t let me down finishing a couple of shots below my handicap! 

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